Around the world, mass shootings frequently encounter a common response:
officials impose new restrictions to the possession of weapons.
Mass shootings are becoming rarer.
Homicides and suicides also tend to decrease.
After a British gunman killed 16 people in 1987, the country semi-automatic weapons prohibited like the ones I used.
A woman looks at a semi-automatic pistol at the Frontier Arms & Supply gun store. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
He did the same with most handguns after a school shooting in 1996.
It now has one of the lowest gun-related death rates in the developed world.
In Australiaa 1996 massacre prompted mandatory gun buy-backs that saw, by some estimates, as many as 1 million firearms melted into slag.
The rate of mass shootings has dropped from one every 18 months to, so far, just one in the 26 years that have passed from.
Canada he also toughened gun laws after a mass shooting in 1989.
did the same Germany in 2002, New Zealand in 2019 and Norway Last year.
Solo UNITED STATES, whose rate and severity of mass shootings are unprecedented outside of conflict zones, has so consistently refused to respond to these events with tougher gun laws.
Although these restrictions have always caused some controversy, most have been widely accepted by voters in other countries.
Even in Australia, where conservative politics and rural traditions have long favored gun ownership, buyouts have been widely accepted by citizens.
Some even handed over the weapons they were legally entitled to possess, in a show support for the strictest gun laws in your country.
Each mass shooting is, in a sense, a marginal event, driven by unique factors like the shooter’s ideology or personal circumstances.
the risk is impossible to erase completely.
Yet the record is clear, backed up by tons of studies that have looked at the effects of policies like those in Britain and Australia:
When countries tighten gun control laws, it results in fewer guns in the hands of individuals, which leads to less gun violence and fewer mass shootings.
Great Britain: sweeping bans
Britain today has one of the strictest gun control regimes in the developed world, even with many unarmed police. But it has not always been so.
The story ofand sports game The country had a long cultural tradition of gun ownership, especially in rural areas.
This began to change in 1987, with the so-called Hungerford massacre, named after the small English town where it took place.
A 27-year-old man used two semi-automatic rifles and a handgun, which he legally owned, to kill 16 people.
His motives remain unclear.
The British Conservative government quickly banned guns like the ones it had used and ordered shotgun owners to register their guns with the police.
The 1996 school shooting in a small Scottish town, where a local man killed 15 pupils and a teacher, sparked more sweeping changes.
A government inquiry recommended restricting access to firearms.
The Conservative government went even further by banning all but the smallest firearms, which a subsequent Labor government banned the following year.
The reforms also require owners of licensed firearms to go through a strict licensing process, which involves interviews and home visits by local police, who can refuse approval if they believe that the potential owner poses a potential risk to public safety.
Mass shootings have not completely disappeared in Britain:
one attacker killed 12 people in 2010 and another killed five in 2021.
But all forms of gun violence have been significantly reduced.
Today there are approx. five guns per 100 people in Britain (except Northern Ireland, where the number is higher), one of the lowest rates in the developed world.
The firearm homicide rate is around 0.7 per million, also one of the lowest.
Australia: Nationwide Takeovers
American gun control activists often cite Australia’s extensive buyouts.
Although no country rivals the gun ownership rate of the United States, which is more than double that of second-ranked Yemen, Australia has similar cultural and political affinities regarding gun ownership. fire arms.
Despite this, after a 1996 mass shooting in which a gunman killed 35 people in the town of Port Arthur, authorities managed to impose sweeping new restrictions.
The nationwide buyback ultimately removed between 1 in 5 and 1 in 3 private firearms from circulation.
This mainly focused on weapons like semi-automatic rifles and a lot shotguns which, according to the new laws, were no longer allowed.
The country also moved gun ownership from an inherent right, found in only a handful of countries like the United States, to a privilege citizens had to positively earn.
Prospective gun owners in Australia now face national registration, a 28-day waiting period and a licensing process that requires showing a valid reason for owning a gun.
Since then, mass shootings have disappeared in Australia. What was once an almost annual event only happened once so
Since the reforms, with an attack in 2018 which killed seven people.
But perhaps the greatest effect has been on other forms of violence.
A 2011 survey of crime and suicide data concluded that the program “appears to have been incredibly successful in terms of lives saved”.
Subsequently, the firearm homicide rate in Australia fell by half, as did the firearm suicide rate, according to the study.
Homicides and suicides without firearms have not increased. Subsequent investigations confirmed these findings.
The reforms were initially controversial, even within the ranks of the Conservative government that approved them, as well as in some rural communities.
But fears of an electoral backlash or even violent resistance (Australian Prime MinisterJohn Howardwore a bulletproof vest during a speech) never materialized.
“Few Australians would deny that their country is safer today thanks to gun control,” Howard wrote in 2013 in The New York Times.
Yet rates of gun ownership in Australia have risen again in recent years, as have rates of gun-related murder.
Canada and Norway: gradual change
Not all reforms have been as dramatic as those in Britain or Australia.
Canada tightened restrictions on gun ownership in response to a 1989 mass shooting that killed 14 students.
Permits were required for shotguns and rifles, and these firearms had to be registered with the authorities.
Similar rules already apply to pistols.
But the new rules, which proved controversial in rural communities, were not enforced until 1995, six years after the shootings, and were mostly abolished in 2012.
While Canadian gun rules are still much stricter than those in the United States, they are more relaxed than in most other countries.
Their gun ownership rates, gun homicide rates, and frequency of mass shootings follow a similar pattern:
a fraction of those in the United States, but higher than in most other developed countries.
Norway also made relatively slow progress after a far-right terror attack in 2011 that killed 77 people.
Although the country has one of the highest gun ownership rates in Europe, it has relatively lower rates of gun-related violence.
The country has had strict rules for years, including mandatory gun safety courses and a complicated licensing process.
But I know it took seven years after the 2011 massacre to enact a ban on semi-automatic weapons inspired by the attack.
It entered into force at the end of last year.
New Zealand, which like Norway has traditionally had high rates of gun ownership but tight restrictions coupled with low rates of gun violence, has moved faster.
When a far-right extremist killed 50 mosque worshipers in 2019, authorities were slow to less than a week announcing a ban on military-style semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines like those the attacker had used.
But Norway, New Zealand, Canada and Australia are special cases in an important sense:
each started with high rates of gun ownership, relatively few restrictions, or both.
In most countries, there are fewer guns or pre-existing gun rights to restrict after a mass shooting, and, perhaps as a result, there are also far fewer mass shootings in those countries. country.
Yet these governments often act.
In Germany, after a gunman killed 16 people, the government raised the minimum age for carrying the few permitted weapons from 18 to 21.
When another attack hit Germany seven years later, two extremely rare occurrences in a country with little gun violence, lawmakers put in place new rules which allowed random police checks on gun owners.
As the possession of weapons was already tightly controlled, there were only a few measures left to apply.
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